I was a senior in high school the year of the Columbine massacre and I remember thinking it would be an isolated incident that would never occur again. By the time I became a teacher, I realized I should at least think about what I would do if I found myself in a similar situation. Most of us have been trained on some sort of “Code Black” protocol where we lock the door, turn off the lights and get away from windows but yesterday on NPR I heard a story about an alternate approach – fighting back. The report centered around what is called “ALICE” training which stands for Altert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. ALICE trainers assert school shooters end up hitting more people because students and teachers hide and stay still. Instead, they recommend strategies like barricading the door, throwing a large number of items all at once at the attacker to distract from a rushing tackle, and running in zig-zags to avoid being shot.
It is hard to know what you would really do under in an actual situation but I believe it is worth some mental planning. Consider David Benke, the now famous math teacher in Colorado who tackled a gun man at his school in 2010. Benke thought about what he would do if a shooter ever entered his school and he said, “If something happens and there’s something that I can do about it, I want to try and do something about it.”
This is not a topic I have discussed at length with my fellow colleagues but I am interested to hear your thoughts. As teachers, what is our obligation here?